A History of the Polish Intelligentsia – Part 2
Edited By Jerzy Jedlicki
Chapter 5: The struggle for primacy
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At home and in exile, 1857-1862
They waited all day long, till dusk fell. “All the apartments were deserted, probably, in the whole of Warsaw”, a diarist noted down. The folks were waiting, and so were the society gentlemen and ladies. The flambeaux were lit. Only at ten at night did the imperial carriage appear from the bridge’s side, in Zjazd Street, and flashed by to the Castle, at full gallop. Warsaw, the diarist reassures, “was overwhelmed by a frenzy of rapture”.197
For it was their emperor, nonetheless. For a mere year now, he had ruled a power that was still tremendous but had been humiliated with the lost war and the dictated peace conditions: accordingly, people dared to expect a change, in Russia and Poland, all the more so. In Petersburg and Moscow, even the press expressed a visible intensified ferment in the minds of the slender local liberal intelligentsia, as well as among the Slavophiles. “One cannot be there in Europe, and refrain from its overall development”, historian Nikolai Pogodin wrote already during the time of warfare – a man otherwise convinced that Russia was marching along its own peculiar path.198 Alexander Herzen, then based in London, summoned the new tsar to wash the shameful stigma of serfdom from Russia, giving freedom and land to the peasants, and freedom of speech to the enlightened.
Warsaw, which had already become customary for it, did not take much interest in the intellectual and literary...
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